By Debbie Watson
We’ve always been enamoured by French interiors. Over the years, our inspirational homes have featured a chic Parisian apartment, a French country house and a farmhouse situated in the South of France. French styling is full of contradictions: it’s ornate, yet effortless; simple, yet detailed; rustic, yet luxurious. Its universal charm lies in how it celebrates the beauty in imperfection, creating a space in which family, friends and feasting is at the heart.
There’s a touch of femininity about French interior style: the curved lines of furniture, the delicate colour palette and the use of natural materials blend together to create an inviting look where vintage still looks pristine (but not overdone) and comfort is never compromised. The same rules apply whether you’re furnishing a ramshackle French farmhouse or a deluxe apartment in the capital: the overall look should have an air of nonchalance about it, even though each piece in the scheme has been carefully considered (naturellement).
The dining room is at the centre of a traditional French home, and although used frequently, it is often the simplest in terms of design and layout. The focal point of the room is a large, long table paired with sophisticated seating, around which everyone can gather,talk and enjoy the food. Anything else, save a sideboard or glass-fronted cabinet, is superfluous.
French furniture delivers elegance in spades, whether it’s through curvaceous cabriole legs on chairs and tables, gently rounded tops on armoires and cabinets, or scalloped edges on dressing tables and consoles. Even when a piece of furniture has been in the family for generations and is looking a little distressed and worn-out, it can still look beautiful when incorporated into a French-style interior.
The colour palette is pared back and mainly neutral. It is inspired by the materials used in furniture and in the fabric of the building, such as pale-grained woods, stone floors and natural linen upholstery. Accessories in soft shades of grey, duck egg blue and pale pink help to lift the overall look, whilst remaining sophisticated and, of course, trés chic.